*I apologize in advance for the many details! Most of this might be obvious to many, but I hope this helps someone in some way at some point!
Disney World is one of those great places where there really is something for everyone. Though I'm not sure how much of our trip Lucy will remember later in life, I do not regret taking her at this age. We have some wonderful pictures and memories! Growing up in Florida, I was able to go to Disney several times; however this was my first trip to Disney as a parent and it was a completely different experience. Here are a few things that I learned along the way.
1. Plan ahead as much as possible. This might seem obvious, but it's true. The Disney website is a lot of help in this area. You can pretty much find out about every single ride, shop and restaurant in each park by doing a little digging.
Dining: **Also, AllEars has a great tool on their sight containing menus from most of the restaurants as well. We did research ahead of time to get an idea of a few different places we might like to eat each day, and made sure they were reasonable and had options for the kids.
**If you think you might want to do any table service meals, MAKE RESERVATIONS as soon as possible. **Also, put the Disney Reservation Number(1-407-939-3463) in your cell-phone in case you need to make any changes while in the area.
Rides and Attractions: Try to map out what you plan to do each day building in plenty of time for breaks, rest, meals, etc. (It may take more time than you think.)
**This Disney Tool was a great help to us in planning to take little ones. We were able to find out which rides were appropriate and which might be too scary. Also, which rides have height requirements. You can also customize your own maps here!
2. Be Flexible if the Plan needs Re-Tweaking (or to be thrown out all together!)
This did not come as a surprise to us at all but we definitely needed to have "Plan-B" mentality on us most of the time.
We only planned to do one park over two days in a row because 1)we wanted to take it slow and enjoy our first trip and 2) we had a limited amount of time. The first day went great, the second day it POURED down rain.. so we packed everybody up and took a trip to IKEA and the Mall. Not at all what we planned, but it worked just fine and we all had fun together.. (which was the point anyway.) Then on Wed. we went back to finish the Magic Kingdom and the weather was absolutely perfect. All that to say, I wouldn't have originally planned to do it that way, but bad weather or not, a day thrown in there to just get up a little later and be a little more relaxed did everyone a lot of good. I think when we go back I would purposely build in a day just to hang around the hotel pool and enjoy the resorts. They are so nice!
This goes along with the 2nd point, but don't try to do TOO much with little ones. Especially toddlers or younger. They will be tired and frustrated and so will you. Remember that Disney or no Disney, they have basic needs and they are used to eating and sleeping regularly. We had a MUCH better time when we left after lunch, went back to the hotel, let them rest (and us too!) and then traveled back before or after Dinner. You will know how your child (children) are and what they can and cannot handle, so plan that accordingly. Just be prepared for the fact that they may do either a little better or a little worse than you imagine. And, have fun! We rode rides in FantasyLand for the majority of one whole day but that was what Lucy absolutely loved. Take time to sit in a shady spot and share Mickey Ice Cream Bars together! (But do it towards the later part of the day, cause you'll probably be out of wet wipes after!!)
*I know this has been a bunch of information but I hope it has been helpful. Come back tomorrow for Part 3: Things I wouldn't Miss and More Helpful Links!